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A missed opportunity.

momlKiev, Ukraine. January 2013.

This rather extraordinarily monumental statue stands on top of (and forms part of) the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Kiev, Ukraine. The monument is officially named “The Mother of the Fatherland” but (perhaps curiously) is more commonly referred to as “The Mother of the Motherland”, and (perhaps less curiously) is sometimes referred to colloquially as “Tin Tits”. The museum commemorates the Soviet victory of the Nazis in World War 2. Although people in most countries of the USSR have rather ambiguous (at best) feelings about their Soviet past, the victory over the Nazis is quite reasonably seen as a good thing, and memorials to the war are still generally looked after and treated with respect. The statue itself is 62 metres tall. Including the base and building it stands on, the statue is over 100 metres above the ground, making it one of the largest statues in the world.
The statue sits upon a high hill overlooking the Dnieper River from its right bank, towards Kiev’s endless Soviet era suburbs on the other side of the river.

Enormous as this statue is, it is actually less grandiose than an earlier proposal. In the 1950s, there were proposals to built twin statues of Lenin and Stalin side by side, each approximately 200 metres tall – each significantly higher than the Washington Monument. Thinking about this in the past, I have thought that these statues would have been unspeakable abominations, and that the Ukrainian people were extraordinarily lucky to merely have the current, modest structure instead of this.

kiev2Kiev, Ukraine. June 2009.

This evening, though, I am not so sure. Well, not entirely. Sure, they still would have been unspeakable abominations, but what a fine day today could have been had they been there. Imagine these gigantic statues of these evil men being pulled down, and the immense splash that they would have made as they fell from the top of the hill into the Dnieper, causing tsunami all the way to Dnipropetrovsk.

That would have been awesome.

13 comments to A missed opportunity.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I don’t think even the most determined amateur iconoclast could have brought down statues that big. And the whole delight of the toppling of Lenin that did happen is that it was done by ordinary people. The never-built monstrosities that you describe would have most likely met their end not at human hands but from rain and ice, eventually.

    My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away

  • Kevin B

    What a shame for Ukraine that the choice appears to be between edging back under the wing of Russia and perhaps beginning the rebuilding of the USSR or joining Europe and taking part in the growth of the EUSSR.

    Socialism or socialism, or so it appears to this outsider. Does anyone here have any better explanation?

    Or perhaps the choice is better put as corporatism or corporatism… Or even fascism or fascism.

  • Todor Kamenov

    Michael, you’re missing some of the irony of the statue. It is indeed an anti-fascist agression memorial, and supposedly erected to commemorate victory over the Nazis. And yet…she is facing east. Think about it.

  • Mr Ed

    The late, great Auberon Waugh suggested that all statues (of people) should be made with removable heads so that one might readily dispose of an unwanted effigy cheaply and quickly.

    Mr Waugh also said that if anyone put up a statue to Charlie Chaplin, he would personally knock the head off of that Communst’s memorial within 3 months. He did not fulfil his promise when a statue was unveiled later that year.

  • Rob

    Amusingly, the BBC claim this was a “pro-EU demonstration”.

  • CaptDMO

    “Amusingly, the BBC claim this was a “pro-EU demonstration”.”
    WHO, exactly, from the BBC claimed this? Who’s their “boss”? Who’s their bosses boss?

    This is why we at least TRY to attribute astonishingly stupid pronouncements to SPECIFIC
    “talking heads” in the US, BEFORE such insights a documented in “wiki” under “Well, look,…everybody KNOWS….”.
    While by no means excusatory toward their “style” book, or teleprompter, “employers”, it at LEAST
    affords us the opportunity to have such “assets” spanked, and returned to the shelf.

    Somehow, some of them escape consequences. We simply rebrand them as buffoonery entertainment.
    Many of them excuse their buffoonery by calling themselves “comedians”, yet an astonishing number of folks with “open minds” hang on their every word.

    Kinda’ like Jerry Lewis.

  • is more commonly referred to as “The Mother of the Motherland”

    In what language?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Natalie, yes indeed. Which reminds me:

    On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness

    The tusks which clashed in mighty brawls
    Of mastodons, are billiard balls.

    The sword of Charlemagne the Just
    Is Ferric Oxide, known as rust.

    The grizzly bear, whose potent hug,
    Was feared by all, is now a rug.

    Great Caesar’s bust is on the shelf,
    And I don’t feel so well myself.

    – Arthur Guiterman

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed – Justinian did something close to that.

    When his armies took the capital of the Goths in Italy Theodoric’s big new church was not pulled down – the statures (and so on) were just “adapted”.

    Michael – the rolling the giant statues to the river and then the big SPASH.

    Yes indeed.

    However, I do not think the statue of Victory should be destroyed.

    In the minds of the people this lady is not Stalin.

    The lady stands for the defeat of the Germans.

    For the sacrifice of the ordinary millions of people who defeated Adolf Hitler.

  • The equivalent statue in Volgograd is falling down all on its own.

  • Also worth pointing out that this statue was built in 1981, and most of the very great many Soviet war memorials (including the one in Volgograd) were built in the 1960s and 1970s to shore up declining patriotism amongst the citizenry.

  • Mr Ed

    @ Paul. Some stats that I saw for the civilian deaths in the East in WW2 indicated that there was a slightly higher death rate in the population behind Soviet lines that behind German lines. There was not enough information to discern if that was due to, on the Soviet side, inadvertent or deliberate famine, battle or purges, or inefficient Soviet purges behind German lines by the NKVD special forces etc. but the Nazis retained the hated collective farms and generally abused the locals, who in the main might have welcomed them as some relief after ears of Stalinism.

    At least they were rid, at war’s end, of one genocidal maniac, even if they had helped land a greater one on the rest of Poland down to Bulgaria and west to Saxony and the slow decay of socialism took another 46 years.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed – quite so.